The Illusion of Inclusive Education

I could go as far as saying that inclusive education is elusive.  A reality that had me thinking that perhaps the joke is on me when the school denied my son reasonable accommodations; a 1:1 facilitator, for the three-day camp that he looked forward to attending.

Many won’t understand the frustrations, and heartache, that goes with advocating for the rights of your child. The right to equal and equitable learning experiences in a system that is yet to fully recognise what inclusion means.

I am often faced with rhetorical statements such as: “Don’t all children have special needs.” Yes, all children are special and all children have needs, but not all children’s needs require special intervention and support services. Herein lies the context of it all.

“Schools with an inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combatting discriminatory attitudes, creating welcoming communities, building an inclusive society . . .” – The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education 1994.

The reality of inclusive education becomes daunting when support needs are not recognised as such by those who are in a position to be the difference, school management. A sad reality that we’ve had to face while other’s celebrated the end of the 2017 school year.

Some interesting information:

  • In 2007 South Africa ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD explicitly recognises the rights of persons with disabilities. It recognises that the State must ensure that “persons with disabilities can access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live”. A right that eludes MANY children with disabilities.
  • South Africa’s policy framework on inclusive education indicates that learners who require low-intensive support are to receive such support in ordinary (mainstream) schools.  Learners with moderate support needs to receive such support in full-service schools. Learners with high-intensive support needs are to be accommodated within the special needs school environment.
  • The National Strategy on Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) defines learning barriers as “difficulties that arise within the education system as a whole, the learning site and / or within the learner him / herself which prevent access to learning and development for learners”. The Department of Education must therefore ensure that learners with other barriers to learning, such as deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity, autistic spectrum disorders, severe allergies, dyslexia, specific learning barriers and behavioural disorders, are also accommodated and provided for in the ordinary schools.


Read the detailed Equal Education Law Centre’s Report on Inclusive Education to gain a better understanding.


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